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                     "COHABITATION BEFORE MARRIAGE"


INTRODUCTION

1. A practice acceptable to many people today is that of cohabitation
   before marriage...
   a. Where a couple who intend to get married decide to live together
      first
   b. In a poll on religion and the family conducted for Religion &
      Ethics Newsweekly, 49% of Americans said that cohabitation was
      acceptable

2. Yet in the August 2005 issue of Psychology Today, there was an
   interesting article...
   a. "The Cohabitation Trap: When 'Just Living Together' Sabotages
      Love" by Nancy Wartik
   b. A blurb advertising the article:  "Living together before marriage
      seems like a smart way to road test the relationship. But
      cohabitation may lead you to wed for all the wrong reasons--or
      turn into a one-way trip to splitsville."

3. The article first described the general reasoning behind
   cohabitation...
   a. That many see cohabitation as sort of future laboratory for
      marriage
   b. That living together will help them make informed decisions
      regarding marriage

[Yet the research suggests something different.  There is a very real
danger in cohabitation before marriage.  Before we consider that danger,
let's first make clear what the Bible teaches about...]

I. THE SIN OF COHABITATION

   A. MARRIAGE IS HONORABLE...
      1. The Bible speaks of the honor of marriage - He 13:4
      2. Of course, marriage was first instituted by God - cf. Mt 19:4-6
      3. It symbolizes the relationship between Christ and His church
         - cf. Ep 5:22-33
      4. It also serves as a deterrent to fornication (sexual
         immorality) - cf. 1Co 7:2,8-9

   B. COHABITATION IS FORNICATION...
      1. Fornication is sex outside of the marriage bond
      2. The Greek word porneia includes "adultery, fornication,
         homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc."
         - Thayer
      3. Thus cohabitation falls under the condemnation described
         earlier - cf. He 13:4
      4. It can keep one out of the kingdom of God - 1Co 6:9-10; Ga 5:
         19-21

[For those who respect the authority of the Scriptures, cohabitation
before marriage is rejected on moral grounds.  But as illustrated in the
above referenced article, there other reasons to reject it...]

II. THE FOLLY OF COHABITATION

   A. COHABITATION UNDERMINES COMMITMENT...
      1. Wartik's summary of the research:
         a. "Couples who move in together before marriage have up to two
            times the odds of divorce, as compared with couples who
            marry before living together."
         b. "Moreover, married couples who have lived together before
            exchanging vows tend to have poorer-quality marriages than
            couples who moved in after the wedding."
      2. One theory why this happens - the inertia hypothesis
         a. Many cohabitating couples get married, but without an
            explicit decision to commit
         b. The marriage is seen simply as the next step in a
            relationship, not much different than the decision to live
            together
      3. Men who cohabit are especially less likely to commit in a
         marriage relationship
         a. The hesitancy to commit led them to choose cohabitation in
            the first place
         b. The uncertainty about the relationship often continues after
            marriage
         c. Wartik referenced a 2004 study by psychologist Scott Stanley
            that found "that men who had lived with their spouse
            premaritally were on average less committed to their
            marriages than those who hadn't."

   B. COHABITATION WEAKENS THE MARITAL BOND...
      1. The experience of cohabitation itself is detrimental to the
         marriage bond
      2. "A couple of studies show that when couples cohabit, they tend
         to adopt less conventional beliefs about marriage and divorce,
         and it tends to make them less religious." - Paul Amato,
         professor at Penn State University
      3. Those who cohabit do not have the same moral imperative to
         remain faithful after marriage
         a. If we are willing to sin with each other before we marry...
         b. How do we know we won't sin against each other after we
            marry?
      4. A successful marriage is one built on trust; such trust is
         stronger among those who fear the Lord more than they fear
         their spouse!

   C. COHABITATION INJURIOUS TO CHILDREN...
      1. To children whose parents remain in cohabitation
         a. "...cohabitation is not an ideal living arrangement for
            children." - Wartik
         b. "Emotionally or academically, the children of cohabiters
            just don't do as well, on average, as those with two
            married parents..." - ibid.
      2. To children whose parents cohabitate and then marry
         a. If born out of wedlock, the stigma of illegitimacy looms
         b. Even if born after the marriage, the parents' example of
            cohabitation will likely encourage the children to follow in
            their steps

CONCLUSION

1. Cohabitation is certainly no indication that one is serious about
   getting married...
   a. Many persons "...have different standards for living partners than
      for life partners." - Wartik
   b. "People are much fussier about whom they marry than whom they
      cohabitate with." - Amato

2. The Biblical concept of marriage is that life partners and living
   partners are to be the same...
   a. That people do not live together until they are willing to commit
      their lives to one another
   b. Such commitment strengthens the marriage bond and provides
      security for the children

If you desire the best for yourself and your children, then follow the
Biblical concept of marriage...!
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